He Bea Cat Takes NCHA Horse of the Year Lead

triceHe Bea Cat &Tarin Rice, Photo by Hart PhotosHe Bea Cat, a 4-year-old gelding trained and ridden by Tarin Rice, made a major and possibly decisive move toward capturing the 2013 National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Open Horse of the Year title with a win at the Southern Cutting Futurity.

He Bea Cat (High Brow Cat x Mae Bea Marie x Freckles Playboy) and Rice, a 23-year-old trainer based in Centerville, Texas, since taking a job earlier this year with Center Ranch, won the Derby Open title with a 225.5 at the Oct. 22-27 limited-age cutting in Jackson, Miss. The victory secured $9,000 for the early earner of more than $250,000, bred and owned by Jim Crawford, of Lexington, Neb. The win also gave He Bea Cat 12 more NCHA Horse of the Year points for a season-leading 60-point total.

He Bea Cat, the 2012 NCHA Futurity Open Co-Champion during his debut with Rice in Fort Worth, Texas, secured a four-point Open Horse of the Year edge over his closest apparent rival, Stylish Martini. Stylish Martini, a 6-year-old mare (Docs Stylish Oak x Miss Martini Play x Freckles Playboy) purchased by Dottie Hill and her husband, Bobby, of Glen Rose, Texas, in October of 2012, finished the year with 56 points. She earned three wins in five shows during her last limited-age season before it ended prematurely in July.

Another horse could still finish as the 2013 NCHA Open Horse of the Year, but only with a spectacular year-ending surge. Horses in the NCHA any-age race also receive Horse of the Year consideration. Most of that division’s Open points will be doled out during the upcoming Nov. 29-Dec. 7 NCHA Open World Finals in Fort Worth.

To wrest the NCHA Open Horse of the Year title away from He Bea Cat, an older horse would have to finish as the year-end NCHA Open World Champion (earning 30 points), win the NCHA Open Show Championship (earning 12 points), and head into the Finals with 19 points from prior Mercuria/NCHA World Series of Cutting shows.

Stylish Martini, a career earner of more than $360,000, secured $255,396 in Fort Worth’s Will Rogers Coliseum while winning the 2011 NCHA Super Stakes and 2013 NCHA Super Stakes with career-long trainer Roger Wagner. Stylish Martini and Wagner picked up a win during their last ride in July as Classic/Challenge Open Champions at the NCHA Summer Spectacular. The mare secured 40 of her Horse of the Year points at those two NCHA “Triple Crown” shows this year.

Unfortunately, a lingering hoof abscess forced Stylish Martini’s owner to sideline her after three 2013 wins, plus two third-place finishes. Her future as a broodmare remains bright, Hill said. She already has one foal on the ground and has two more on the way.

He Bea Cat and Rice secured 30 points by finishing as the 2012 NCHA Futurity Co-Champions last December. They added 12 each by winning the March Cattlemen’s Derby Open in Graham, Texas, plus their season-ending Derby Open victory at the Southern Futurity. They qualified for Derby Open finals at three other shows.

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